With this week’s readings we’re getting a look through a window of a much larger chapter of recent U.S. History–the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam on the northern Colorado Rivers, and the ongoing challenges for western states facing increasing water shortages as a result of uncertain weather patterns and climate change trends. A product of the Bureau of Reclamation’s efforts in the late 1950’s and 60’s, Glen Canyon Dam was one of many water reclamation projects completed in the arid west which, indirectly, enabled settlement in that water-poor region of the country. For perspective, Phoenix, Arizona–my hometown–gets about 8-10 inches of rain per year (here in middle Tennessee we get about 50), and yet Phoenix has grown to the point where (including suburbs) it is now the fifth largest city in the country (depending, of course, on how you measure population–still, it’s kind of staggering to have a major city–and several other mid-sized cities, including Albuquerque, Tucson, Los Vegas, etc.–in that dry desert region).
I’ve included that brief history to provide some context for your readings about Porter, Abbey, and to a lesser extent, Peacock. And in chronicling their trips “Down the River,” both Abbey and Porter proceed with a very specific goal in mind–one we’ve encountered before, at an earlier point in the term. Reading (and quoting) specific passages from both authors, please begin by trying to identify that goal. See if you can match each authors’ efforts with a specific objective, and discuss how they use words and images to make their case. Develop your answer over the course of about 3/4 of a page (according to standard default fonts and settings), and please feel free to include any of the other contextual materials as you see fit.
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